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Anecdotes, Alibis, and AdviceExperience with Big and Small High Tech Businesses in Massachusetts (and beyond)

The aggressive professional-in-training considering his or her options for employment following graduation has a wide variety of opportunities from which to choose. In spite of changes in the business climate, the maturation of some technical standards and the continued rapid evolution of others, and ongoing raw technological advancement, there are certain Personal Planning Factorsthat should be considered by the graduate.

Dr. Donald A. Gaubatz

978 853-9934


about the presenter
About the Presenter

Dr. Donald A. Gaubatz left a university position in Washington, DC and moved to Massachusetts in 1978 to begin a career with DEC (during which he completed his Ph.D. at Cambridge University in England) and became Vice President of Workstations with offices in Maynard, MA and Palo Alto, CA. He went on to do private investing and consulting on an international basis and, as a result of Advisory Board work with a local startup, was asked to join the firm as SVP/COO. Dr. Gaubatz participated in proposing the National Center for Computer Graphics and Scientific Visualization to the NSF and was on its Advisory Board for the 11 years of NSF funding. He is a Founding Member of the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, CA and is the only member of the Microprocessor Report Editorial Board on the East Coast.


anecdotes alibis and advice outline
Anecdotes, Alibis, and Advice – Outline
  • Introductory Context - Industry, Personal
  • Sketch of Background, Experience
  • You’re in the Right Place
  • Advice for You (Personal Planning Factors)
  • Alibis for (and from) Everyone
  • Anecdotes (supporting the Advice, not the Alibis)
  • Startup Equity Split - Example
  • Summary (for Yankees)
  • Handouts, Reading List
  • Artifacts, Tokens, and Charms


introductory context industry
Introductory Context - Industry
  • Times are not the best.
  • Tech is down.
  • Tech market leaders’ share prices are low.
  • Jobs are scarce.
  • Entry-level positions are hard to find.
  • Retirement plans are threatened.
  • … so let’s get going …


introductory context personal
Introductory Context - Personal
  • Personal Review (sort/merge/purge/store)
    • Paper Things (files, books, magazines, business cards, …)
    • Silicon (Copper, …) Things (electronics, computers, …)
  • Professor Lieberherr’s Lecture Request !!!
    • Lecture drawn from lots of context …
  • San Jose trip
    • Microprocessor Forum
    • Computer History Museum Fellow Awards
    • Many meetings with professional colleagues
    • Silicon Valley is NOT a Happy Valley


background sketch 1 of 2
Background Sketch 1 of 2
  • Family electronics business, St. Louis
    • Audio, Movie Theaters, Television (News!), Controllers
    • Engineering Degree, Washington University
  • Catholic University of America, Washington, DC
    • Visiting Instructor (to start)
    • Assistant Prof (concurrent graduate work)
    • Extension Courses (completely self-driven)


background sketch 2 of 2
Background Sketch 2 of 2
  • Digital Equipment Corporation (Applied R&D)
    • Modernized system peripherals
    • Ph.D. Cambridge University, England
    • Vice President of Workstations Worldwide
  • Independent Consulting, Investing
    • Boards and Advisory Boards
    • International clients
    • Large and small companies
    • Leveraging experience, contacts …


alibis for and from everyone
Alibis for (and from) Everyone
  • There are too many from which to pick:

“… great technology but no sales …”

“… they wouldn’t fund next generation…”

“… it was the CxO’s fault …”

“We have all had a very cold shower,” said Bob Grady, a venture capitalist with the Carlyle Group – Associated Press, 10/29/02


you are in the right place technology
You are in the Right Place(Technology)
  • The money is sitting on the sidelines:
    • Business expansion
    • Venture investments
  • It’s a lot of money (Karlgaard)
    • “$ 2 trillion”
    • Your estimates may vary … (some say $ 6 trillion)
  • Calculating a company’s value (Kawasaki):
    • $500,000 per staff Engineer
    • - $250,000 per staff M.B.A.


this is what will happen for you
This is what will happen for You
  • Near, to very near, term, low expectations may well prove valid.
  • Intermediate to long term, achievements will be higher, possibly much higher.
  • Long term, achievements will be very much higher, beyond one’s (your) ability to predict.


my prediction said another way
My Prediction, said another way..
  • In spite of poor conditions in the near term, you will achieve beyond your expectations in the long term.
  • Observation by Gordon Bell (paraphrased):

Predictions for technology progress are overly optimistic in the near term, and not nearly optimistic enough in the long term.


here s how to get past the near term to the good stuff personal planning factors 1 5
Here’s how to get past the near term (to the good stuff)Personal Planning Factors 1-5
  • Be Good
  • Be Articulate
  • Be Connected
  • Be Business-Like
  • Be Open to Possibilities


be good personal planning factor 1
Be Good*Personal Planning Factor 1
  • This means be a good engineer, designer, architect, researcher, programmer, sales support engineer, operations analyst, …
  • You can work towards this “at school”.
    • There are no limits

* I didn’t really mean good, I meant great.


be articulate personal planning factor 2
Be ArticulatePersonal Planning Factor 2
  • Be, or get, good at writing. Nothing happens without writing. Start with your résumé, do a biographical sketch, and refine and update them constantly.
  • Be, or get, good at speaking. You cannot create your career alone, you need to draw people along with you, you need to form group consensus, and you need to lead.


be connected personal planning factor 3
Be ConnectedPersonal Planning Factor 3
  • Be, or get, good at connecting with as many worthy contacts as possible. As you proceed in your career, your “connections”, your personal, trusted, widely-distributed network will be invaluable to your progress.
  • Do you have a mentor?
  • Your contacts are worth organizing and nurturing. Use a computer. Be personal. Be consistent.


be business like personal planning factor 4
Be Business-LikePersonal Planning Factor 4
  • Business ain't kiddin’ around. (I can use slang in my slide, but you can’t use slang in your written or spoken business communication.) (Use the spell-checker, and then check the spell checker.)
  • Return all calls, emails, letters.
  • Be prompt.
  • Be grateful, say “thank you.”
  • Be gracious under pressure.
  • Be personable, but be “contract*-aware”.



The Agreement constitutes the entire understanding of the parties relating to the subject matter hereof and supercedes and cancels all agreements, written or oral, made prior to the date hereof between the parties.


be open to possibilities personal planning factor 5
Be Open to PossibilitiesPersonal Planning Factor 5
  • Plan.
  • Plan as much as you can stand.
  • But, be ready for (unplanned) possibilities.
  • Many of your future opportunities will occur because you are (or have become):
    • Good (Great)
    • Articulate
    • Connected
    • Business-Like
  • Let’s go the the anecdotes …


anecdote 1 creating expertise ext courses contacts s
Anecdote 1Creating Expertise, Ext. Courses, Contacts, $s
  • Catholic University of America, Winter ’77

“We (You) need Extension Courses.”

  • Resources:
    • Microcomputers: 1
    • Interest: User Microprogramming
    • Deal with Western Digital; Deal with DEC
  • Results:
    • New Course, Summer ’77, Winter ’78
    • Oversubscribed, ran two sessions in ’78
    • Consulted at Lawrence Livermore Labs in ’78
    • Co-Taught Microprogramming Course at MIT, ‘79
    • Tutorial Chairman, ACM SIG MICRO, three years


anecdote 2 delivered disk and ethernet i o for microvax
Anecdote 2Delivered Disk and Ethernet I/O for MicroVAX
  • Pre-DEC experience with DEC products:
    • Great CPU, system architecture, system software.
    • Peripherals not competitive.
  • Resources:
    • Personal belief, vision that DEC could do better.
    • Support from the right places (but not all places).
  • Results:
    • Took design responsibility from Storage Group.
      • Used outside resources
    • Took design responsibility from Networking Group.
      • Worked with 3Com (Bob Metcalfe), Intel


anecdote 3 delivered dec s first risc workstations 3d etc from risk taker to managing risk takers
Anecdote 3Delivered DEC’s first RISC Workstations, 3D, Etc(From Risk-Taker to Managing Risk-Takers)
  • Residency at Cambridge University completed.
    • Returned to DEC, 1986, continuing dissertation, projects.
  • Opportunity: “Here, manage PDP-11s.”
    • 1987, 100s of employees, mature (big) business.
  • Opportunity: “Here, manage Workstations.”
    • 1988, 100s of employees and growing, MA, NH, CA.
  • Resources:
    • Commitment, support, track record.
  • Results:
    • More strategic products, in shorter time.
    • $1.6 billion business.


anecdote 4 the network enabled many engagements trusted connections bridge domains
Anecdote 4The Network Enabled Many Engagements(Trusted Connections Bridge Domains)
  • U.S.A. Representative, Olivetti-Oracle Res Lab, UK.
    • First worldwide sale of Radio ATM to DoD.
  • Compaq Computer, Consultant.
    • Products, strategy, management.
  • Elcom Tech, Malvern, PA, Investor, Consultant.
    • Powerline communications.
  • Mangosoft, Inc., Westborough, COO/SVP.
    • WAN-coherent Windows-compatible virtual file system.
  • Etc. …
  • Cogent Technology, Santa Cruz, Board of Directors.
    • Raised funds; acquired by C-Cube, Harmonic Lightwaves.


startup equity split example
Startup Equity Split – Example

Position Equity %

CEO 6.0-10.0

CTO/Founder 6.0-10.0

VP Engineering 3.0-5.0

Dir Engineering 1.5-2.5

Arch Engineering 0.75-1.0

Principal Engineer 0.6-0.8

Senior Engineer 0.4-0.6

Engineer (4 yrs exp) 0.25-0.4

VP Sales 2.0-3.0

VP Marketing 1.0-2.0

CFO 1.0-1.5

Office Manager 0.1-0.2

Product Manager 0.5-0.75

Notes: 1) at first round, employees should own one-half the company, 2) at second round, one-fourth, 3) exact details may vary.


summary for yankees
Summary (for Yankees)
  • “You’d know a Yankee anywhere.”*
    • Frugal
    • Resourceful
    • Hard-Working
    • Independent (see next page)
    • Tenacious
    • Rugged
    • Strong-Willed
    • Inventive
    • Neighborly
  • Combined with the Personal Planning Factors, this is YOUR RECIPE for Entrepreneurial Success!

*Boston Globe Magazine, November 1, 1998


advice from a financial planner
Advice from a Financial Planner

The personal financial planning process is not full of mystery. The actions required to develop a financial plan that will help you achieve financial independence are logical and sequential. The greatest roadblock to achieving financial independence is the tendency to procrastinate. Time is your greatest asset if you use it wisely.

To make your financial plan work it is necessary that you discipline yourself and consistently follow through on the actions that will help you achieve your goals.

Those consistent actions are:

  • Pay yourself first
  • Managing your debt
  • Managing your taxes
  • Maintain a consistent budgeting process
  • Systematically review your progress


handout 1 of 2
Handout1 of 2

“An Engineer’s View of Venture Capitalists,” by Nick Tredennick with Brion Shimamoto, IEEE Spectrum, Vol. 38, No. 9, September 2001, pg. 13-19.

“A Venture Capitalist’s View of Engineers,” by Brian Kinard with John Balbach, IEEE Spectrum, Vol. 38, No. 11, December 2001, pg. 14-15.

“Across the board, things aren’t what they used to be”, Gordon Baty, Mass High Tech, July 2002.

“Venture Investments fall to 4-1/2-year Low,” by Michael Liedtke, Boston Globe, October 29, 2002, pg. E3.

  “For Richer”, by Paul Krugman, New York Times Magazine, October 20, 2002, pp. 62-67, 76-77, 141-142. Cover Title: “The Class Wars, PART I, The End of Middle-Class America (and the Triumph of the Plutocrats)”

  “In Defense of the Boom”, by Michael Lewis, New York Times Magazine, October 27, 2002, pp. 44-49, 60, 70, 72, 84, 94. Cover Title: “The Class Wars, PART II, The Vilification of the Money Class (and the Triumph of the Mob)”


handout 2 of 2
Handout2 of 2

“So Many Ideas, So Few Companies,” by Esther Dyson, New York Times Magazine, February 15, 1998, pg. 16. Subtitle: “In Silicon Valley, everyone wants to be a C.E.O., but nobody wants to do the grunt work of management, operations, and marketing.”

“How to Make a Big Hit With Your Pitching,” Michael Gartenberg, Computerworld, March 26, 2001.

“Things I Wish I’d Been Told – Tips For Students with a Bachelor’s in Computer Science,” by Craig Partridge, from a lecture given at Stanford in 1999. URL:

“The Top Ten Marketing Writing Mistakes,” by Dianna Huff, D.H. Communications, 2001. URL:

 “Q&A with Bob Metcalfe,” Computer Power User, November 2002, pg. 108.

“You da Brand,” by Tim Noonan, Hemispheres, May 1999, pg. 94-96, 98-99, 100-101.

“Digital Rules: By the Numbers,” by Rich Karlgaard, November 11, 2002, pg. 39. 


reading list 1 of 2
Reading List1 of 2

“Rich Dad, Poor Dad, What the Rich Teach Their Kids About Money—that the Poor and Middle Class Do Not,” by Robert T. Kiyosaki and Sharon L. Lecter, Warner Books, 2000.

“The Green Guide to Personal Finance: A No “B.S. Book for Your Twenties and Thirties,” by Ken Kurson, Main Street Books, 1998.

“Entrepreneurship for the Nineties,” by Gordon Baty, Prentice Hall, 1990.

“The Experience Economy: Work is Theater and Every Business a Stage,” by B. Joseph Pine II and James H. Gilmore, Harvard Business School Press, 1999.

“Soul of a New Machine,” by Tracey Kidder, Back Bay Books, 2000.

“The Economist Guide to Business Numeracy,” by Richard Stutely, 1993.

“The Venture Imperative,” by Heidi Mason and Tim Rohner, Harvard Business School Press, 2002.


reading list 2 of 2
Reading List2 of 2

“Engines of Logic,” by Martin Davis, W.W. Norton & Co, 2000.

“Out of Their Minds,” by Dennis E. Shasha and Cathy A. Lazere, Copernicus, 1998.

“Computing Tomorrow,” Edited by Ian Wand and Robin Milner, Cambridge University Press, 1996.

“Stan Veit’s History of the Personal Computer,” by Stan Veit, WorldComm Press, 1993.

“Striking It,” by Jaclyn Easton, CommerceNet Press, 1999.

“You are the message: Getting what you want by being who you are,” by Roger Ailes with Jon Kraushar, Currency Doubleday, 1995.

“100 People Who Changed Our World,” Upside, October 2001.